Hanna Nakano Oct. 14, 2015, 10:36am

Friends and colleagues are mourning loss of longtime journalist and spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court – a man friends say fought for the truth.

Joseph R. Tybor, 68, passed away Sat., Oct. 10, at his home in suburban Countryside.

Tybor was a journalist with a law degree who initially set out to be a Roman Catholic priest, before spending years as communications director for the Illinois Supreme Court.

His lifelong friend Thom Serafin, a Chicago-based public affairs consultant, told the Cook County Record Tybor was fundamentally at search for truth.

“He was always a fighter for the ultimate true story in life,” Serafin said.

Tybor began working for the Court in 1998, after a 30-year journalism career in Chicago. Tybor leaves many legacies at the Supreme Court, Serafin said, including most notably, the policy allowing cameras in the courtroom.

“He really believed if you could see justice in action, there would be more justice for everyone,” Serafin told the Record. “He worked tirelessly with the Court and he was always and advocate of cameras in the courtroom, and when the court then ordered it, it was up to him to implement.”

Tybor was responsible for ushering in a new era to the Supreme Court.

“In a time when communications was changing to much with the Internet, he shepherded this whole process through everything in the communications revolution. During this process he really elevated the court,” Serafin said.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said Tybor was an example to all of courage and strength. 

"My colleagues and I are deeply saddened by Joe’s passing. He was truly dedicated to his role as the voice of the Illinois Supreme Court, and we watched in awe as he continued to carry out his duties even as he fought his illness," Garman said in a prepared statement.

Tybor’s career in journalism began at the Associated Press in the 1960s. After serving in the U.S. Army and attending night classes to earn a law degree, Tybor took a job at the Chicago Tribune. In 1986, the Tribune nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the city’s criminal justice system.

But Tybor didn’t set out to be a journalist or a spokesman for the court system, according to Serafin. Tybor was in seminary to become a Catholic priest when he decided to get into journalism.

“His dad pushed everyday, you have to be impeccable with your word,” Serafin told the Record. “Who else would you want to be a reporter than someone in the seminary; who else would you want to be a spokesman for the Supreme Court than someone who was impeccable with the truth?”

Joseph Tybor is survived by his wife, Sandra; daughter, Sarah (Kevin) Clark; son, Adam (Kelly) Tybor; siblings, Julia Moore, Donna Siedschlag and David Tybor; grandchildren, Harrison Joseph Clark, Charles Jacob Tybor and Erin Catherin Tybor, in addition to several nieces and nephews.

His family asked for memorial contributions to be sent to Block Integrative Cancer Center in Skokie or to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

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Illinois Supreme Court
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